Gulf sends Springstead to another early exit

Published January 19, 2006

"Anything can happen."

That's what Springstead forward Angela Passafaro said last month when contemplating an early exit from the Class 4A, District 8 playoffs. With the Eagles (15-1), who went undefeated in the district, coming off a 9-1 victory over South Sumter and having beaten Gulf (8-4-4) a combined 8-2 during their regular-season matches, a win seemed certain before Wednesday.

But anything did happen. Two goals trickled into an unguarded Springstead net, giving Gulf the surprising 2-1 victory over a sluggish Springstead. It was the second season in a row the Eagles entered as the No. 1 seed and failed to advance to the final for a region berth.

Coming into the match, Gulf coach Shari Schau said she had a good feeling about the game. She said once she learned No. 6 seed Hudson beat No. 3 seed Pasco, she knew "upsets were in the making."

After losing twice to Springstead, freshman forward Brittany Orlando was looking to a higher power for help.

"I was praying," she said.

Her prayer was answered when she scored her first goal in the 37th minute. Karissa Hill followed with a goal in the 58th minute. Teresa Chimenti scored Springstead's lone goal in the 74th minute. The Eagles had a few chances to tie, but fell short.

"Sometimes it's a bounce here and a bounce there," Schau said. "And it went our way tonight."

Zephyrhills (12-2-2) beat Hudson (4-9-2) 5-1 in the first game. They'll play Gulf on Friday. Zephyrhills won the first meeting between the squads and they tied in their last game.

4A-6: Lecanto survives

BELLEVIEW - One night after the tournament began with three consecutive shutout wins at Belleview's Strike Zone Stadium, things were much closer Wednesday.

Fourth-seeded Crystal River (10-8, 7-7) took on the field's top seed, Lecanto (14-3-2, 12-1), in the early game and stayed focused by outhustling the Panthers.

In the end, a talented Lecanto team outlasted the Pirates and emerged with the 2-1 win to earn a spot in Friday's final.

The Pirates had momentum after defeating Ocala West Port 7-0 on Tuesday night. Lecanto fell behind early to a prepared, aggressive Crystal River squad.

"Those girls came out very quick," Lecanto coach Kevin Town said. "I told (the team) that it would be a one-goal game, and that's exactly how it turned out."

Senior Katie Ezzell made a drive toward the goal and Panthers keeper Sam King. She was taken down from behind and awarded a penalty kick. After converting less than midway through the first half, the Pirates appeared to be primed for the upset.

King, a senior, performed well, stopping everything besides that opening penalty kick for 19 saves.

Lecanto's scoring began with a Natalie Burnett goal 22 minutes in, but a second-half stalemate led to dramatics.

With only four minutes remaining, junior Maggie Mueller, the team's scoring leader (36 goals), was able to break away from the defense. She deposited a goal to the left of Crystal River keeper Robyn Tisdale for the winner.

It was Tisdale's valiant effort that kept the Pirates in the game. The senior was constantly under attack from halfway through the first half on, making 18 saves in the process.

The late game saw an early adrenaline rush from Belleview before Citrus snatched the other spot in the final 4-2.

Scoring opened 28 minutes in with a penalty kick off the foot of freshman Nikki Krause.

From there, Citrus continued to maintain control, scoring three times in the second half.

Coach Charlie Gatto and his Hurricanes will look to settle the score with Lecanto on Friday. The rivals split the season series.

- DEREK LaRIVIERE, Times correspondent